DRAMA: Bush Vs. Rubio: Marco Laughs Off Jeb’s Jabs

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is dismissing criticism from fellow Sunshine State 2016 GOP Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush.

According to Politico:

“Marco Rubio’s still not taking the bait.

After a summer of sitting just below the radar, Rubio’s stealthy performance at the debate and months spent working voter crowds has sent him slowly but steadily climbing in the polls. And that’s suddenly making him a target, not least for Jeb Bush, who is now subtly attacking his leadership chops and experience level.

But on Friday, Rubio responded to his one-time mentor’s criticisms not with a counterattack but an indifferent shrug.

“It’s fine. It’s not a big deal,” Rubio said during an interview with Mike Gallagher, a nationally syndicated conservative radio host. “When you run for office, and you feel — whatever — you’re going to say what you think puts you in the best position; and I guess they’ve determined coming after me a little bit puts them in a better position.”

Rubio’s slightly patronizing aplomb is that of an increasingly confident candidate. At this critical juncture in the Republican primary fight, as the slowly winnowing field and a new batch of fundraising reports threaten to re-shape the race, Rubio is operating from a position of strength. Although he still trails three outsider candidates overall, he is quietly manuevering to overtake Bush, despite his financial and organizational advantages, as the GOP’s new establishment frontrunner…

And by avoiding a tit-for-tat argument with Bush, Rubio is seemingly diminishing the potential for a marquee showdown between the two 2016 candidates favored by the Republican establishment, at least for now. Much like Bush’s initial criticism of Rubio, a mere backhanded compliment, Rubio is preventing things from getting nasty or personal.

But make no mistake: he’s also subtly tweaking Bush, who now trails him in the polls, suggesting that the former governor is getting a bit desperate.”

Bush had previously blasted Rubio over alleged issues with Rubio’s leadership skills and experience level.

Slate described the situation this way:

“Since there would be no Marco without Jeb, the logic goes, Jeb should get to be president first. That’s the subtext of a new line of attacks Bush has been introducing in media appearances since Wednesday.

“I’m a proven leader,” he told CNN. “I disrupted the old order in Tallahassee. I relied on people like Marco Rubio and many others to follow my leadership and we moved the needle.” Bush equals leader, Rubio equals follower. Get it? He had more on whether Rubio is ready to lead the country: “Look we had a president who came in and said the same kind of thing—new and improved, hope and change—and he didn’t have the leadership skills to fix things.”

Bush reiterated this Rubio-Obama comparison during an appearance on MSNBC’sMorning Joe on Thursday. He claimed he meant no insult to his former child-apprentice, now rival, and then offered the exact same jabs. “I think I have the leadership skills to fix things and that’s my strength,” he said.

“Marco Rubio was a member of the [Florida] House of Representatives when I was governor and he followed my lead and I’m proud of that.” When Bloomberg’s John Heilemann followed up with a question about whether Rubio “has the leadership skills to fix things,” Bush said, “It’s not known.” And you know who else’s leadership skills were not known?“Barack Obama didn’t end up having them and he won an election based on the belief that people had that he could, and he didn’t even try.”